Manhunt for Fugitive Tuberculosis Patient
Law-enforcement agents in Northern California are hoping to arrest a man who’s infected with tuberculosis before he infects anyone else with what might be a drug-resistant strain of the disease.
Eduardo Rosas Cruz showed up at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton in March and was diagnosed with TB. He was told to stay in a Stockton motel where a health worker could administer his medication—a nine-month course—and ensure that he took it. Instead, he left. Rosas Cruz is from an area in Mexico where a drug-resistant strain of TB is prevalent, making the manhunt even more urgent. Officials got a statewide warrant for his arrest last Thursday.
“He could be in a homeless shelter. He could be around the corner from the courthouse,” San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor told the Associated Press. “We don’t know.”
TB usually spreads when an infected patient coughs or sneezes. If left untreated, the disease can cause death. California law prohibits forcing a person to accept treatment for TB, however they can arrest and isolate a patient and offer medication.
Taylor said he didn’t know whether Rosas Cruz is a legal resident of the United States and doesn’t want him jailed, only that he wants him to get treated and protect the public’s health. “We’re interested in this guy because he broke the orders of the health officer,” Taylor said. “It’s all that's left on the shelf.”
The most famous case of a person being held to avoid spreading a disease is that of “Typhoid Mary” Mallon, a cook who spread typhus about 100 years ago. She was eventually quarantined to North Brother Island, in New York City’s East River.
To Learn More:
Police Seek Man Who Refused TB Treatment in Stockton (Associated Press)
Typhoid Mary: Villain or Victim? (by Judith Walzer Leavitt, Nova)
Florida Officials Kept Secret Worst TB Outbreak in 20 Years as Leading TB Hospital Closed to Save Money (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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